Wednesday 18 September 2019

RIP iPod

It can be hard work, being positive, don't you think? Even on my morning walk, as I follow the track through the trees down to our little beach, while I'm appreciating the natural beauty and peace and solitude, I'm also wondering what I'm going to find washed up on the pebbles. That's experience, that is: usually it's a variety of plastic, but occasionally it's also dead birds. There was the shag with the fish hook in its wing, there was the little blue penguin, once there was the awful morning when there were two little blue penguins swilling about in the water - and, today, it was iPod.
iPod is - was - a red-billed gull, a threatened species here despite their numbers seeming healthy only because they're so good at being ubiquitous - or, rather, appearing wherever there's food, or the chance of it. Sit down anywhere along a beach and there'll be a gull checking you out within minutes. But their breeding colonies have declined markedly over the last few years, thanks (no thanks) to predators, and they need help.
So when iPod turned up, on spec, on the deck railing one day two years ago, I was happy to dish him - or her, it's impossible to tell - out some cat food. I gave him that name because, poor thing, he was missing not just one, but both feet, and tottered along on his stumps. As he did, they made a distinctive tap-tap sound - which, of course you'll know, is Morse code for the letter i. And pod, meaning legs, went with it beautifully.
So iPod learned I was a soft touch and, in the chick-feeding season, would turn up several times a day - up to six or seven, at the season's height - to nag me, and gulp down a quite extraordinary quantity of jellimeat. Other gulls noticed, even a giant black-backed gull, and they were occasionally a nuisance, making it a challenge to feed just iPod, but he persisted, and so did I. The second season, he was accompanied by a hanger-on with a high voice, who I reckon was offspring, especially when iPod got distracted one day and fed him automatically. But he only ever got the left-overs.
Anyway, I last fed iPod two days ago, and was wondering about his absence at this busy time of year - and then, there he was this morning, dead, on the beach, where I'd never seen him before. Normally, after feeding, he would fly straight off across the big bay, disappearing into the distance. He'd been attacked, by a dog I'd guess, from the puncture wounds on his body. Possibly he'd been on the ground and, handicapped by his stumps, hadn't been able to run along fast enough before take-off to escape the dog (which should have been on a leash). Or, given that there were only two holes in his chest, maybe he'd been shot by some low-life.
I gave him a respectful burial. He deserved respect, overcoming such a handicap - imagine, struggling to balance every second of the day, having to fight against every little breeze, not being able to swim, or scratch. But he stayed positive, and kept going. Brave bird. I'll miss him.


the queen said...

This is heartbreaking!

TravelSkite said...

It really, really is.


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